As Texas Tech offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie addressed a semicircle of reporters on an August afternoon after practice, the training grounds were empty except for five players – Tyler Shough throwing passes to four receivers, including a few.
There was nothing new about this scene.
Dalton Rigdon had witnessed this sort of thing all summer.
“This guy, I don’t even know if he’s coming home,” said wide receiver Tech Inside. “I think he has an air mattress in his locker that he airs at night and sleeps here. He eats, breathes and sleeps football.”
For the record, Shough doesn’t sleep on an air mattress at the Tech Football Training Facility. But he tends to call it a day later than most.
After all, the Red Raiders’ new quarterback is a graduate student, which leaves him a little more time for the sport. He has his own apartment across from the football building, and even when he gets home he might still want to watch a movie.
He might as well do it, he reasoned, in the office.
“I might as well stay here where I have a lot of resources,” he said. Often it is around 9 p.m. before he gets on his scooter and leaves.
Shough learned last year, in his final season in Oregon, that he didn’t want to devote his whole life to football – that’s what he does, not who he is, he says; no more important than God, family and friends. Since transferring to Tech just under six months ago, he has struggled to find that sport-life balance while indulging in his gaming obsession.
“Definitely, I take what I’ve learned in the past and apply it here,” he said, “but understand that I’m here because I want to win and I want to do whatever I can. to help this team win in Football. ”
That effort begins with the season opener Saturday in Houston. Tech takes on Houston at 6 p.m. at NRG Stadium. In a team with a number of accredited transfers from power five programs, none command more attention than Shough.
Being 6-foot-5, 225 pounds with a strong arm and more mobility, he is considered a potentially high draft pick. How much depends on him and how he performs in a Tech uniform, whether it’s for one season or more than one.
“Tyler has a really good arm. He’s really precise,” said Rigdon. “He’s super smart, a smart guy. He knows football and he loves football.”
One hit on Shough during his time in Oregon was his judgment and decision making – fair criticism, he agrees. “Part of learning and part of leaving as a freshman quarterback,” he said, “is knowing when not to be Superman and knowing when to play in your game and play in building the offensive and giving it to the guys.
“Obviously sometimes when you get into a groove you try to do too much.”
Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie reminds Shough that trying to be too perfect in every game can be counterproductive.
But in Shough tries to be the best he can be, those around him say he’s doing it the right way. This is true both on and off the pitch.
In a new era of college sports, in which athletes can take advantage of their name, image and likeness, Shough appears to be the most requested tech player. He has NIL deals with restaurants, a sporting goods store, and a trading card company.
But he tried to spread his good fortune on his teammates – working a free weekly meal for offensive Tech linemen as part of his restaurant deal.
“That’s the only real reason I want to do (NIL) stuff is to have fun with them,” he said of his new teammates, “and to bond with them.”
Shough transferred to Tech in mid-March. From the start, he took teammates to the Buffalo Wild Wings, said offensive guard Weston Wright.
“From day one he tried to contact us,” Wright said. “The first time I met him was about the day he arrived in Lubbock, and the first thing he did was invite us to eat. We went to eat tonight- the.
“Since then the quickest path to lineman O’s heart has been food, and he’s done a really good job of getting us out and feeding us and really keeping us in the loop. That connection between the quarterback and O linemen has never been so strong. “
Shough understands the fact that he can make a lot more money turning into an NFL quarterback. If he throws a bunch of interceptions, he notes, no one is going to want him. If he’s the best quarterback they can be, everyone will win.
Which explains these late nights at the Tech football building.
“The way he came in from day one and applied himself, the way he studied… he goes beyond the pitch,” Cumbie said. “And just because you’re doing that doesn’t mean you’re the starting quarterback. He’s got a lot of talent. He has a lot of ability to throw the ball well. He moves quite well. And I think he understands.
“It’s a pleasure. His daily attention to detail is really what separates him.”
Texas Tech vs. Houston
Who: Texas Tech in Houston
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Or: NRG Stadium, Houston
Records in 2020: Texas Tech 4-6, Houston 3-5
Radio: FM 97.3, FM 100.7, FM 106.5, AM 950
Satellite radio: Sirius 134, XM 385
Tipico sports betting line: Houston by 1; plus-minus 64.5